Parties, Elections, EU Politics

Preventing Electoral Violence: understanding actors’ incentives and capabilities to spoil elections.
Mascha Rauschenbach. Ongoing research project.

Under which conditions do actors resort to electoral violence and what are effective measures for preventing electoral violence? This project addresses these questions.
It divises a theory of the conditions under which different actors – incumbent governments, opposition parties, or other spoilers resort to electoral violence and conditions under which voters support violent parties. We argue that the incentives of trying to influence election outcomes in one’s favor or to violently protest the outcome of elections can be understood as a function of actors’ perceived gains of violence as well as their capacities to instigate violence. On the incentives side, the closeness of elections, the perceived fairness of elections and the availability of other means for advancing one’s goals are important. Regarding capacities, the access to and control over armed groups will play a role. Based on the developed incentives and capacities-framework, we identify the conditions under which different actors resort to violence in the pre- or post-election period in a large-N, time-series crosscountry study. In order to further investigate the assumed causal mechanisms at work, we conduct a case-study of a small number of countries over time. Here, we make use of innovative quantitative rigorous research designs such as natural experiments and complement them with in-depth qualitative research methodologies such as process tracing. Based on these two studies on the motives for and the use of electoral violence by different actors, we then devise measures that can alter the incentives and capacities of actors to engage in violence. In a final study, we evaluate measures that have theoretically been identified as promising for a selected type of election violence prevention measure undertaken on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. This project will greatly enhance our understanding of the roots and causes of electoral violence and will generate hands-on suggestions for preventive measures of electoral violence for policy-makers and practitioners.


Programmatic Competition? Evidence for a Rural-Urban Divide in Election Manifestos and Voter Behavior in African Elections.

Mascha Rauschenbach (with Zachary Greene). Under review.

Elections in Africa have widely been regarded as devoid of issues and ideology. Yet, there is little systematic analysis on the extent programmatic competition. We reconsider the standard view using automated text analysis to scale the dominant dimension of conflict present in parties’ manifestos from recent elections in seven African countries. Our findings show that incumbents tend to propose pro-rural policies, while the opposition tends to focus on pro-urban policies. Furthermore, we use public opinion data from the Afrobarometer survey to evidence that the more pro-rural the policies parties propose, the more likely they are supported by rural voters. These findings suggest a dimension of conflict similar to a center-periphery cleavage observed historically in European politics. Our findings, further, suggest that issues and the positions parties take on them matter more for vote choice than previous accounts have indicated.


Clientelism and Voter Intimidation.

Katrin Paula and Mascha Rauschenbach.2019. “Intimidating voters with violence and mobilizing them with clientelism”. Journal of Peace Research: 1-15.

This study analyzes the use of electoral clientelism and voter intimidation in African elections. The campaigning literature, which has mainly focused on U.S. elections, expects parties to concentrate campaigning efforts on persuading independent voters. However, recent evidence from outside of the U.S. and in particular from developing countries, suggests that parties concentrate resources on courting their own supporters. We argue that one reason for this is that parties in many less established democracies use intimidation to demobilize parts of the electorate. Rather than trying to persuade independent voters, they can have an incentive to demobilize them with violence. This frees up resources which parties can spend on mobilizing their own supporters. Past research has mainly focused either on the use of electoral clientelism or on the use of electoral violence. Extending a new line of research, our findings indicate that the use of one strategy can help us understand the logic in the use of the other. Moreover, research on persuasion and mobilization in elections has tested implications of the different models of campaigning either exclusively on the individual or on an aggregate level. We model the likelihood of a voter being targeted with either strategy to be a function of both voter’s individual partisan status and of the general level of competitiveness and turnout of the region she lives in, matching Afrobarometer individual-level data with region-level election data. Contrary to research on US campaigns, we find that benefits are not concentrated on independent voters, but on core voters and those living in strongholds.

The Credibility of Clientelistic and Programmatic Campaign Promises: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Ghana.

Mascha Rauschenbach.  Prepared for the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, 6-9 September, 2015.

When are campaign promises credible in elections in Africa? In a survey experiment conducted during Ghana’s 2012 presidential election campaigns, voters were asked to evaluate the credibility of campaign promises, depending on whether they are assigned to the incumbent or the challenger and depending on whether they refer to the provision of local pork or public goods. The findings reveal a credibility advantage of the incumbent in promising future goods. They also show that more informed voters find promises concerning national public goods more credible than their less informed counterparts. The findings are further suggestive of a strong partisan bias in the evaluation of campaign promises.


Mobilizing Supporters: the Allocation of Campaign Rallies in Ghana’s 2012 Elections.

Mascha Rauschenbach. Under review.

Research on the allocation of campaign resources has focused on US election campaigns. Campaigns in young democracies are likely to be different. I argue that rather than predominantly campaigning among marginal voters, it is rational for candidates to mobilize their potential supporters. This is due to low partisan attachment and a credibility problem candidates have when making campaign promises to voters other than their supporters. I analyze constituency-level campaign appearances by presidential candidates in Ghana’s 2012 elections. Constituencies are characterized by their voting and their turnout history, allowing for a rigorous test of the persuasion versus mobilization model.

The analysis reveals that both candidates spend more time campaigning among their potential supporters, than a pure persuasion model would suggest.


From Patronage to Program: Local and National Campaign Promises in Ghana’s 2012 Elections.

Mascha Rauschenbach. Prepared for the Conference of the German Political Science Association’s (DVPW) section on comparative politics sections from 9-11 October 2013 in Leipzig.

It has been a major challenge to scholars to understand why actors continue to use clientelism as a strategy to stay in power or win power, even though elections in sub-Saharan Africa have become increasingly competitive. In order to understand when and why political actors might shift away from electoral clientelism to more inclusionary strategies, it is important to understand when candidates prefer using the latter. I study the use of programmatic and clientelistic campaign promises by the two main presidential candidates John Mahama (NDC) and Akufo-Addo (NPP) in Ghana’s 2012 elections. I argue that the reason why programmatic promises have been rather unpopular with candidates and voters is that in low credibility politics the benefits and consequences of a programmatic promise are difficult to assess for voters so that they put little trust in these promises and tend to base their assessment of the different candidates rather on clientelistic promises. This assumption implies that candidates will use programmatic promises in constituencies where they enjoy comparatively higher levels of trust, which I expect to be in constituencies where the dominant ethnic group is a traditional support base of the candidate. I test this argument in a mixed-methods approach with a quantitative content analysis of campaign speeches held at 70 campaign rallies across the country and qualitative interviews with campaign managers of the two main parties on the national, regional and constituency-level. This within country-comparison bridges the gap between cross sectional large-N studies and qualitative case studies, allowing to make some generalizations on the causal mechanisms at work, without sacrificing in-depth insights into the case-specific context.